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XFL v3 - Will it survive?

The XFL is about to relaunch this Saturday and several former ‘Canes are hoping to show up and show out.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The XFL (Xtreme Football League) is a professional American football league that was first founded in 2001 by Vince McMahon, the CEO of WWE. The league’s aim was to provide a more exciting and high-scoring version of traditional football, with rule changes and innovations designed to create a faster-paced, more entertaining game.

Unfortunately, the league struggled to attract viewership and was ultimately forced to shut down after just one season. However, in 2018, McMahon announced that he would be relaunching the XFL in 2020. The new version of the league featured a number of changes and innovations, including a shorter play clock, a revised overtime format, and a focus on player safety.

Despite an initially promising start, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the XFL to suspend its 2020 season, and the league ultimately declared bankruptcy. However, in August 2020, the league was purchased by a group led by actor, former wrestler, and Miami Hurricane Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and the plans to relaunch the league in February 2023 have come to fruition. See the season schedule here:

Joining The Rock in the XFL are a number of Former Hurricanes:

Lamar Thomas - Orlando Guardians - Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers/Special Teams

NCAA Football: USA TODAY Sports-Archive RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Thomas played college football at the University of Miami and was a standout wide receiver for the Hurricanes in the early 1990s. Thomas was then drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft and went on to play eight seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver and return specialist.

After his playing career ended, Thomas transitioned into coaching and has held various coaching positions at both the collegiate and professional levels. He has served as an assistant coach at a number of schools including Louisville and Kentucky. Thomas also coached in the XFL, serving as the wide receivers coach for the Tampa Bay Vipers during the league’s short-lived 2020 season.

Throughout his coaching career, Thomas has developed a reputation as a skilled and innovative offensive coach, particularly in the area of wide receiver development. He has helped to develop a number of standout receivers at the college and professional levels.

I messaged Coach Buckley lobbying for the hire early on:

Charleston Rambo (1st Rd Draft Pick) – Orlando Guardians

NCAA Football: Miami at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

In January 2021, former Oklahoma Sooner Charleston Rambo announced that he would be transferring to the University of Miami for his senior season. He was a major contributor in the Hurricanes’ receiving corps and set receiving records for the most catches AND yards in a single season.

Gerald Willis – Orlando Guardians

NCAA Football: Florida State at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

During his college career, Willis played for the Hurricanes from 2016 to 2018. He played in a total of 28 games and was a dominant force on the defensive line, recording 110 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, four sacks, and five forced fumbles. He was named to the All-ACC Third Team in 2018 and was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded to the best defensive player in college football.

Following his college career, Willis entered the 2019 NFL Draft but went undrafted. He was later signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Ravens but was waived before the start of the regular season. He then signed with the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad but was released in October 2019.

Jose Borregales – Orlando Guardians

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Borregales started his college football career at Florida International University (FIU) from 2017 to 2019, where he was a standout kicker and earned multiple all-conference honors.

In 2020, Borregales transferred to the University of Miami for his senior season. He immediately made an impact for the Hurricanes and was one of the best kickers in the country, making 20 of 22 field goal attempts and all 37 of his extra point attempts. Borregales was named the Lou Groza Award winner, which is given annually to the best placekicker in college football, and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Specialist of the Year and a consensus All-American.

After his college career, Borregales went undrafted in the 2021 NFL Draft but was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent.

Jamal Carter – Arlington Renegades

Miami v North Carolina State Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Carter played for the Hurricanes from 2013 to 2016. He was a key contributor on defense, appearing in 45 games and recording 162 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, five interceptions, and 12 passes defended.

He went undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft, but signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos. He spent the 2017 season on the team’s practice squad before being promoted to the active roster for the 2018 season. He played in all 16 games for the Broncos in 2018, primarily on special teams, and recorded seven tackles.

Carter was released by the Broncos in 2019 and subsequently signed with the New York Jets, but he did not make the final roster. He later signed with the XFL’s Seattle Dragons, but his stint with the league was cut short when the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

D’Eriq King – DC Defenders

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Michigan State at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

King began his college football career at the University of Houston in 2016, where he quickly established himself as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. Over his three seasons at Houston, King passed for 4,925 yards, 50 touchdowns, and eight interceptions, and rushed for 1,421 yards and 28 touchdowns.

After his junior season, King announced that he was redshirting the 2019 season in order to focus on his recovery from a knee injury and to prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft. However, he later decided to transfer to the University of Miami, where he would be eligible to play immediately as a graduate transfer.

In his first season with the Hurricanes in 2020, King quickly became the team’s starting quarterback and one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football. He passed for 2,686 yards, 23 touchdowns, and five interceptions, and rushed for 538 yards and four touchdowns. He was named the ACC Newcomer of the Year and was a finalist for the Manning Award, which is given annually to the best quarterback in college football.

King was injured his Knee in the Bowl game and announced in December 2020 that he would be returning to Miami for his senior season in 2021, forgoing the opportunity to enter the 2021 NFL Draft. He returned to the field in 2021 but suffered a season ending injury early in the season.

King signed with the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent on May 9, 2022. He was waived on May 16. On November 14, 2022, King signed with the Carolina Panthers practice squad. He was released on November 22.

Trent Harris – Houston Roughnecks

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 Virginia at Miami Photo by Richard C. Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

During his college career at Miami from 2014 to 2017, Harris was a productive pass rusher, recording 94 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, and 15.5 sacks. He was a key member of the Hurricanes defense during his senior season in 2017, when he recorded 41 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks. He was named a second-team All-ACC selection that season.

Harris went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft, but he signed as a free agent with the New England Patriots. He spent the 2018 season on the team’s practice squad before being promoted to the active roster for the final regular season game and the playoffs. He did not see any playing time, however.

Harris was waived by the Patriots during the 2019 preseason and subsequently signed with the Miami Dolphins. He appeared in three games for the Dolphins in 2019, recording two tackles and one sack. He was waived by the Dolphins in 2020 and signed with the New York Giants. He also had stints with the Ravens and Raiders in 2022.

Deandre Johnson – Houston Roughnecks

Central Connecticut State v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Johnson was a highly-touted recruit out of high school, and he committed to play for the University of Tennessee. He subsequently transferred to the University of Miami, where he was required to sit out the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

In his first season at Miami in 2019, Johnson appeared in all 13 games and recorded 15 tackles, three tackles for loss, and one sack. He played primarily as a backup defensive end but showed flashes of the pass-rushing ability that made him a highly-regarded recruit.

Johnson was expected to compete for a starting role in the 2020 season, but his playing time was limited due to injuries. He appeared in six games and recorded six tackles and one tackle for loss.

That’s a wrap for now... What team(s) will you be watching? Let us know in the comments below.